Edit Blog Post
Published: February 26th 2009
Friday 16th - Friday 23rd January 2009
Our arrival at Bad Gastein was welcomed after a fairly hectic day. My bags were absolutely back breakingly heavy and we hadn’t left ourselves much fat time wise. The train arrived at Westbahnhof in Vienna while Jane, Phil and I were off buying lunch and other goodies and so poor Sean had to move four backpacks and four daypacks from one end of the platform to the other by himself (he found a luggage trolley when he’d finished). Fortunately, none of us missed the train and the rest of the journey was rather uneventful, with the exception of a one hour wait at Salzburg because of a late train.
Bad Gastein is absolutely beautiful and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The village is in a ravine that has a river, complete with waterfalls, running through it and houses built on either side of it up into the mountains. It is best known for its spas and hot baths, which take advantage of the underground thermal activity. Sean had booked us an apartment at the Bellevue Mondi; a huge, fairly new resort at the bottom of the mountain, but within walking distance
to the train station and main ski lift. We also lucked in by being upgraded to a valley view room, which meant we had amazing views from our fifth floor balcony.
There was also so much snow everywhere. It was piled up by the side of the roads and covered the huge pine trees until they looked completely white. It also meant that some of the smaller roads and less used paths were extremely icy. On our first night we passed a BMW that was trying to skid and slide its way up a steep road and another time we spied a couple from our balcony who were making their way down a path and hugging the side rail because it was so slippery. I also seemed prone to slipping and nearly knocked myself out when I slipped and hit myself in the head with a bottle of sparkling I was carrying (which, to make matters worse, the guys walking past thought was extremely funny).
And of course the skiing was brilliant. I couldn’t get over how long the ski runs were (quite often 3-6km), the amount of snow on the slopes and how we practically had the
slopes to ourselves (January is low season). We would usually ski for a couple of hours in the mornings, then find an alpine hut somewhere on the slopes for lunch and then ski for another three or so hours in the afternoon. The best part was that there are so many ski areas across the mountains that no matter what the conditions, there will usually be somewhere to ski. So on the last two days, when the top of our mountain was closed due to high winds, we were able to ski over to another mountain quite easily.
Our lessons with Emil (not Gimmel, Phil!), our Swedish ski instructor, were good fun. We went off piste, which (in my opinion) was crazy, practiced jumps and skied down a slope backwards. I think it is safe to say that Phil just couldn’t get enough of the skiing. He was definitely the cowboy of the group, flying down the mountains, while doing 360 degree spins. We quickly forgot that Sean had only skied for two days prior to the trip as he demoned his way down the mountain, although he certainly had the most impressive stacks. Oh, and we’ve got no
All Lifts Open!
The Gondola ascended over 1000m to the top of Stubnerkogel
idea how he lasted as long as he did with huge open sores on the side of his ankles from ice skating and then equally huge blisters on his shins from the skiing. Jane’s introduction to beginner skiing was fairly traumatic. I won’t say too much, except that it involved some night skiing, ski patrol men (Das ist nicht gut!) and a ‘I hate skiing’ exclamation to our ski instructor. I think the first couple of days must have steeled Jane though, because by the end of the week she had skied an intermediate run, loved it and was ready for more.
We were usually exhausted by the evening, so we were a little quiet on the apres ski side of things, although the tiny rotunda at the bottom of the slope was one of the funniest sights. It was usually jam packed by 4pm with people dancing and playing drinking games. We would head straight for the whirlpool for an hour or so and one night we made it out to the Silver Bullet for a drink and some music.
We decided to only ski for four days, so we could make it to Salzburg and fulfil
Jane’s lifelong dream; The Original Sound of Music Tour. So while Jane and I went off to follow in Maria’s footsteps, the boys found a pub and settled in. We sat in the front of the minivan with our fabulous tour guide, Peter, and there were three others (Australians) in the back. We saw all the sights from the movie and Jane astounded me with her recollection of just about every scene. The highlight would have to be the singalong though, with Jane receiving applause for her strong renditions of ‘these are a few of my favourite things’ and ‘the lonely goatherd’. (Mum, why didn’t I ever get singing lessons?)
The final day of Jane and Phil’s holiday was a mammoth, although fairly relaxed, travel day. We made our way back to Vienna and onto Bratislava. From there we flew to London and caught public transport south to Alex’s house. Sean and I sighed with relief, when our very heavy bags were put through without an excess baggage fee. The next morning we dropped Jane and Phil back at the airport for the dreaded flight home and we headed back to spend a final few days with Alex before
Spot Jane and Phil
I’ve decided that the Alps were probably the best part of our trip for me. I loved camping and hiking in Switzerland in Summer and the skiing in Austria in Winter was magical. Oh, and it wasn’t anywhere near as cold on the slopes as it was in Vienna or Salzburg and on a couple of occasions we were all even quite hot out in the sun.
Tot: 0.065s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 13; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0329s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb